With the daunting task of choosing where to go to college, there are several important factors that weigh into my decision.
First and foremost, I look at quality of education. I want the best undergraduate academic experience that I can get, so I have applied to some of the top universities in the country. However, not everyone can get into Stanford, Harvard or Yale. The reason that these are regarded as the best schools in the world is that they are very selective, so it highly possible that I could get denied at any of them.
Because of this, I have to temper my expectations when it comes to the very top schools. There are 30,000 other students trying to fill about 2,000 spots at these institutions, so I am not alone. Even the best students are not guaranteed to get in at these schools.
I would be excited and honored to get such a great education, but I also understand that I might not get in. With this attitude, I will not be too disappointed if I am not accepted to an elite academic university.
Looking for a good time
Another priority of mine is fun. College is a time to study, but it is also socially a great time to live life. I want to have a social life after high school, so I am looking at colleges with good extracurricular atmospheres.
When I visited colleges earlier this year, I took note of some schools that felt more fun than others. Some gave me a feeling that they were all about the books and not about the social life. Others had a more fun atmosphere and I felt that they had a good balance of brains and laughs.
This was in the form of student-run clubs, sports teams and general school spirit. I prefer the schools where I can enjoy myself and get a great education.
Change of scenery
When choosing where to go to college, I’m also heavily considering geographic location. I want to go to school north rather than south. I like having all four seasons and I would like to be able to ski in my college years.
Also, I generally want to get a new geographic experience. I have lived in suburban Minneapolis my entire life, so I want to have a change of pace for a few years. I have applied to schools on the east and west coasts as well as a few in the Midwest. I have also applied to schools in a variety of environments.
Some, like the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University, are very close to big cities. This would allow me to utilize the assets provided in a big city, like shopping malls and movie theaters. Others, like Northwestern University, are in more suburban environments, which could give me the same opportunities.
I also have applied to colleges in small towns, like Cornell University and Yale University. This would give me more of an ability to enjoy nature, which I have always done in Minnesota.
While my top three priorities are education quality, opportunities for fun and geographic location, I believe that I will be able to enjoy my college experience no matter where I go. I only applied to schools that I would be happy at, so the concept of “settling” for a lesser school does not bother me.
I believe that with a positive attitude, anyone can enjoy college. I have been told that the college experience is what you make of it, so I intend to make it great.